The Acts of the Lords of Rannick, XIII

I never really noticed on the read through of this module that the writer expects you to present completely managed and frustrating encounters to the players: the hopeless fight at the waterfall and the pointless fight during the Nightmare. Last week we did the former, last night we got to struggle through the latter.
I suppose the plot is served, in ways that I didn’t fully explain last night. But my overall impression is that the writer intends the players to walk away from the Nightmare encounter REALLY wanting to kill someone. Ideally, this will be Rhoswen, the source of the Nightmare and not the GM. Fortunately, if this has put slaughter and pillage at the forefront of the PCs minds, I can serve that up in great abundance.

I thought last night showed a lot of good roleplaying and that was really what the XP award was for, the interaction with the Fey Conclave. I really thought everyone did very well. It could have been a one-man show with whoever was supposed to do the speaking shoved to the front, but really everyone got in on trying to sway the opinions of those present. Apart from Badonk, who is a Barbarian and would be doing it wrong if he schmoozed. Even though the initial outcome was disappointing (Dagfinn failed to sway the Fey to the cause),  it wasn’t for lack of trying or good ideas and the story eventually pointed in the right direction.

At the Fey Conclave; No spriggans were actually harmed in this massacre.

Having arrived in a puff of rainbow and wonder, the unicorns arrived at the encampment with Torgor, Lonny, Kerplak and Dagfinn. Arradin and Badonk were already there, retrieved from their wanderings in the mist by Fira the dryad. Albedon and Corwyn had been brought in by the unicorns just before the Spriggan horde descended on Dead Man’s Drop.

The new arrivals were met by Devarre, who went to inform the representatives of the Fey Court of their arrival after being filled in on the action so far. Devarre also pointed them to the tents set aside for their use and told them that the Fey Court had summoned a Conclave to discuss the recent events. Someone would be expected to speak on their behalf. Aripha, one of the Fey Court’s delegates dropped by to welcome them and to ask them to hold onto the wardstones for a while longer. Fira also popped in to say thank you again.

Some party members – especially the spellcasters who had not had a chance to replenish their spells since Fira first burst out of a tree next to them – hit the hay right away. But others explored the camp and made use of the refreshment tent that some satyrs were running. In attendance, they saw centaurs, satyrs, a contingent of Sylvan Elves and a gnomish delegation from other parts of the Sanos Forest. Behind the camp, away from the fires and fragile tents, a grove of treants was deep in discussion, including Vinroot the Treant who had drunkenly almost killed the lot of them. On seeing the slightly singed tree-man, some polite and diplomatic overtures were made regarding the misunderstanding earlier, but Vinroot (with that unplaceable shame that comes from knowing you’ve done something terrible when drunk, but not knowing what it was) denied ever having met them before.

We've all been there Vinroot.

As midnight drew near, the assembled pixies, nixies, dryads, satyrs etc. gathered in front of the natural stage in the clearing, waiting for the conclave to begin. Aripha opened the proceedings by explaining what the Fey Court was there to do and asked for reports from all involved parties so that she and Malgorian, her Satyr counterpart could decide what to do about the events in the Southern Sanos.

Vinroot spoke first, a rambling and long-winded report on the general health of this part of the forest with particular attention paid to which trees were currently growing and that the growth of brambles seen recently was an unusual event but one that would not likely impact the health of the forest. It was a very dull speech. During that time Lonny decided that they really needed to think about what they were going to say. Dagfinn was going to be the group’s ambassador so everyone started to think of salient points to make to the Court. One interesting thing they thought to point out was their experience helping the fey in the Shimmerglens, which I never would have thought of, but would actually carry a fair bit of weight with the Fey. Vinroot’s speech gave them plenty of time to talk amongst themselves and get organized.

Next up, Oreius of the Centaurs, whom Arradin had thought to assist earlier took the stage and outlined what they knew of the movements of Spriggans. Specifically that about a force of 800 Spriggans had emerged from the area of the Faengard and had set up temporary camps outside the forest. He believed the spread of the camps and their temporary nature belied their plan to make a move in force at some point soon.

A representative of the gnomes and then of the Sylvan elves stood to say more or less the same thing: their settlements had seen no sign of the Spriggans but they came to the Conclave to offer whatever help they could to the Fey Court. Fira and Devarre also spoke, recounting the intervention of our heroes in their own terrible situations. Fira recounted the attack on her grove, which marked the first atrocity committed by the Spriggans against the fey and Devarre was able to date his possession by the Will O’ the Wisp, which gave him an idea as to how long the Faengard had been broken.

After this it was Dagfinn’s time to shine. Lonny Blessed him as he went up to explain the part of the second worlders in all of this, from their pedigree of helping out the Fey to the attack on the wedding at Whartle and the background that they knew of Tenzekil. He even made the point that Whartle was probably one of the best kinds of human settlement to have since it relied on a healthy forest and agriculture. He made a strong case for unity of purpose, but as stirring as it seemed to the other members of his party, the assembled Fey responded quite differently. While certain points caught their interest, at others they sat placidly and silent. Tough crowd, man.

After Dagfinn’s oration, Malgorian stood to make a counter-argument and close the session. He argued that – with the murder of Fira’s sister’s aside – all of Rhoswen’s aggression had been directed at the second worlders; Devarre, Whartle and the party. Why should the Fey decide to involve themselves against an unknown strength for the sake of a human settlement? The humans encroach into the forest relentlessly, so shouldn’t the enemy of the fey’s enemy be their friend? After that, Aripha closed the Conclave and she and Malgorian retired to make their decision.

I include this snap of Malgorian and Aripha only because I think Meg White and Sean would make a great band.

I was pretty impressed at what happened next. Rather than sulk that things hadn’t seemed to have gone their way, some of the adventurers leaped to either assess the mood, do damage control or reason with those present. Given that most of them had been on their feet in a hostile forest since the early morning, the party must have been exhausted but kept at it anyway. That kind of pluck may not have changed the decision of the Court, but it certainly endeared them to the various factions represented. Torgor argued his case to the Treants, while Arradin made hers to the Sylvan elves. Both were sympathetically turned away. Corwyn took up the argument at the refreshment stand, impressing a lot of the Satyrs there with the vigour of his reasoning. They explained that without the central guidance of the Fey Court, it was unlikely that the assembled factions would act in a unified fashion, even if they agreed with him. They may not have seemed to make much headway, but they made a good impression.

Eventually though, they hard to turn in for the night, knowing they were safe under the protection of the centaurs.

So it was with surprise that they woke to sounds of slaughter. As they emerged from their tents, they found the Conclave in flames, with enlarged Spriggans raging between the ruined tents butchering their inhabitants and Spriggans mounted on snarling Worgs running down any who fled. Without their armour on and perilously low on useful spells, they waded into combat, dropping Spriggans to their left and right, slaying Worgs. The Spriggans pressed in and were aided by an enraged Treant who hurled burning logs at them. Above the fray, an elven woman appeared, floating along on a cloud, dressed regally in green. Albedon lashed out with a fireball spell which exploded around her, yet still she persisted, casting down spells. Raising her crooked staff in the air, the previously felled Spriggans rose again, oblivious to their mortal wounds. The crook glowed black with shadow magic… I know, right? Mind = blown. She then cast a series of fireballs at the party crisping poor Albedon, laying out Arradin and Lonny with the first, badly scorching the others with her second. After the second, she floated over to them and imperiously intoned “Abandon your folly, or when next we meet I’ll do more than haunt your dreams.”

At which point, they all woke up. It had all been a dream. Oof.

They woke, all with the exception of Albedon who was unaffected, in various states of undress, waving their weapons around outside their tattered tents. Around them several nervous centaurs (you should have seen the clean up on that) and concerned fey folk were making soothing noises and asking them nicely to put their weapons away. Malgorion and Aripha were summoned and quickly determined that the party was being scryed. They warded them with charms of non-detection and began discussing the implications of this intrusion into the Fey Conclave. Malgorion believed that wards set up around the encampment should have prevented anyone from beginning to scry, so assumed the party had been observed for a long time. If that was the case, it meant Rhoswen believed that the party was important enough to observe. It also meant that she probably knew everything they had done in the past day, including retrieve the Wardstones and attend the Conclave.

Such a clear breach of etiquette and Rhoswen’s revealed concern about the second worlders seemed to sway the Fey representatives. They declared that the Fey Council would coordinate a campaign against the Spriggan army of the Fellnight. They asked that the party venture into the Fellnight Realm, men the Faengard and reactivate it, once more sealing Rhoswen away in her own prison dimension. It was a pretty big thing to ask, but to my surprise everyone really jumped on it. They were biting at their shields to get in there and get some vengeance… and that’s what I think the point of the frustrating waterfall/nightmare combo was, to get people invested in destroying the Fellnight.

As the party rested to recover their strength, the Fey made ready to go to war against their shadow brethren.

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